While many working folks line up to demonstrate against Wall Street and the increasing wealth of 1% of our population, the rich are not without their defenders. As Nina Easton writes in her September article “Stop Beating Up the Rich,” for Fortune Magazine, the truth about the dwindling middle class may be more surprising than expected. The middle class is dwindling, she argues, because more of them are becoming wealthy. To defend her position she cites recent Pew Research Center statistics that show “…the percentage of upper-income Americans surged from 14% to 20% of the population.” (“Stop Beating Up the Rich,” by Nina Easton, Fortune Magazine, 9/12, pg. 119)
A 2011 study by the Deloitte Center for Financial Services went further. It showed that the number of millionaire households rose from 7.7 million to 10.5 million over the last decade and is predicted to double by 2020. (Ibid. pg. 119). Of these newly minted wealthy only 6% inherited their money. The majority are self-made men a women. (Ibid pg. 120)
One of the reasons for the growing upward mobility of the middle class is that since the 1970s women have made surprising economic strides. More are obtaining advanced degrees and entering the workplace at higher levels of pay than in the past.
Easton’s quarrel with the 99% protestors is that they’ve ignored these statistics and have targeted the wrong issue. The goal isn’t to pass laws that redistribute the wealth, according to her. The goal is to protect a level playing field so that equal opportunity exists.